Isaac Newton, the great physicist and astronomer, said, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” And so it is with us, and our quest for peace.
When I was a child, I was so moved by the dedication, eloquence and integrity of giant leaders like Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy, who stood for peace. Clean Gene and Bobby took a stand against a brutal and deeply immoral war. On the central issue of the day, other elected officials shifted back and forth like weathervanes. But if you are a true leader, like they were, then as Bob Dylan said, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”
In 2006 and 2008, long before it was popular, I honored the memories of Gene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy by running as an antiwar candidate. When reporters ask me when I thought that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should end, I said, “They should have ended a long time ago.” And I said that in a district that had been represented by Republicans for 34 years in a row. I wasn’t reading the polls when I said that. I was reading my heart.
I told my constituents that like them, I want America to be #1 in the world. But we don’t need to be #1 in the category of “Number of Foreign Countries Occupied.”
Last year, in the inspirational tradition of Senators McCarthy and Kennedy, we organized and mobilized against war with Syria. We not only found a peaceful solution, but we also established an important principle: In war, it’s our blood, and it’s our money, so it’s our decision. We, The People decide for or against war.
But in Afghanistan today, history is repeating itself. We remain embroiled in another brutal war, one that has gone on even longer than the war in Vietnam. At the peak of the surge in Afghanistan, in 2010, we were spending more on war and the military than we ever did during the height of the war in Vietnam. And today, we continue to spend one million dollars each year for every soldier deployed in Afghanistan. Even though the latest polls show that the war in Afghanistan is less popular with the American People than the war in Vietnam ever was.
President Obama promised that the war in Afghanistan would end by 2014. We have to make sure that he keeps that promise.
This is how I look at it: the war in Iraq is over. One down, one to go.
Some of our supporters have been kind enough to refer to me as “America’s Congressman.” The media often refers to me “Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL).” I’m proud to represent my neighbors and friends in Central Florida. But if you ever want to refer to me as “Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Peace),” that’s OK with me, too. In fact, I would be proud of that. And you can rest assured that in that regard, I represent you, no matter which congressional district you may call “home.”
The cause of peace is older than history itself. It’s up to each generation, including ours, to carry that torch, and pass it on. But in recognition that we don’t have to start fresh, one of our supporters has created a variation on the very popular “McCarthy Daisy.” This was the evocative symbol of Eugene McCarthy’s effort to end the war in Vietnam. It also epitomized the spirit of political involvement in the Sixties. Here is the new daisy:
You can count on me to continue to fight for justice, equality and peace. Please join me in our crusade to make America again “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Rep. Alan Grayson
“Well, it’s one-two-three, what are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn.
Next stop is Vietnam.”
- Country Joe and the Fish, “The Fixin’ to Die Rag” (1967).